Coffee has been a staple beverage worldwide for centuries.
Whether you’re in Latin America, East Africa, the Middle East, or North America, you can always find a delicious cup of coffee.
People love its soothing smells, various flavors, and – of course – much-needed energy shock to get your day going.
For the coffee lover who likes the mental boost, strong coffee is a must.
However, what determines the strength of coffee?
And is there anything you can do to brew a strong cup of coffee?
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about strong coffee, what impacts the strength, and the top five most intense coffee brands in the world.
How Strong Is Coffee?
While there are several contributing factors, the level of strength largely depends on the total dissolved coffee solids (TDCS).
The coffee to water brew ratio is a determinant of this figure, which we will explain below.
How Strong Is Drip Coffee?
Based on studies from the National Coffee Association (NCA), a standard cup of drip coffee provides around 65-120 milligrams of caffeine.
Several variables go into the caffeine content, resulting in such a massive range.
These factors include grind size, dwell time, brew time, coffee type, roast level, temperature, blend, and more.
How Strong Is Strong Coffee?
Because everyone has different taste buds and preferences, there is no universal answer to this question.
However, the strongest cup of coffee would consist of 100% high-pressure undiluted brewed espresso.
This drink typically comes in one-ounce liquid, but you could easily convert this to a 12-ounce cup.
If you went this route, the cup would have over 600 milligrams of caffeine.
It would have a thick body and contain at least 3x-4x the amount of caffeine brewed at the standard level.
What Makes Coffee Strong?
So, what makes coffee stronger or weaker?
Below we outline the critical things to consider, including coffee bean type, brewing method, and grind size.
Different Beans Have Different Levels of Caffeine
One of the largest coffee strength factors is the coffee bean type.
There are several coffee plant species, which is why coffee beans have varying effects on their caffeine levels.
Below are the two most popular types of coffee beans:
- Robusta coffee bean, which comes from coffea canephora coffee plants
- Arabica coffee bean, which comes from coffea arabica coffee plants
According to a 2016 study, an Arabica bean only contains half the caffeine that a Robusta bean has.
Arabica beans have anywhere between 34-38 grams of caffeine per kilogram.
On the other hand, Robusta beans deliver about 68-81 grams of caffeine per kilogram.
Roast Levels DO NOT Indicate Strength
Most people believe that roast levels play a role in coffee strength.
However, strong coffee is made during the brewing portion, NOT the coffee roast.
You can control coffee strength by measuring the coffee grinds to water ratio.
The person who makes the coffee also makes the final decision on whether the coffee will be weak or strong.
Roasting the coffee beans has no impact on strength.
Most people think dark roast coffee is more potent because of its bitter taste, but this viewpoint is a common misconception.
It’s Really the Brewing Method That Counts
Caffeine levels in coffee beans are consistent across the board, but the brewing method does impact caffeine.
Baristas can alter the amount seamlessly because they know how to brew the coffee beans correctly.
Here is a quick breakdown of brewing methods and associated levels of caffeine:
- French press: This brewing method provides the lowest levels of caffeine, around 108 milligrams in an 8-ounce cup.
- Percolator: This brewing method delivers the most caffeine at 200 milligrams every 8 ounces.
- Drip coffee: This method, or any method that uses a filter, will provide approximately 145 milligrams for each 8-ounce cup.
Your Grind Size Matters
You can use any of the three brewing methods described above, but you still need to extract the caffeine (flavor) from the coffee grounds.
The process is simple: the more you grind your coffee beans to make them fine, the more you boost the ground’s surface area.
The more exposed these grounds are, the faster the extraction process.
Because espresso machines will pass water quickly (in under 30 seconds), coffee grounds are made much finer.
On the other hand, cold brew requires coarse coffee grounds.
The method of cold extraction will require the coffee to sit in the water for a few hours.
What Kind of Coffee Has the Most Caffeine?
If you walk into a Starbucks or other local coffee houses, the drink that has the most caffeine will be the drip coffee.
However, an espresso will deliver a smaller kick of caffeine.
Strongest Coffee: Caffeine Per Ounce
When we evaluate coffee on a “caffeine per ounce” basis, espresso is the clear frontrunner.
Because of its high-pressure brewing and grind size, it surpasses the rest of the alternatives.
Espresso has a high concentration and delivers more caffeine per ounce than other brewing styles.
Here is a quick breakdown of other coffee types and their caffeine per ounce:
- Latte: 150 milligrams of caffeine
- Cappuccino: 150 milligrams of caffeine
- Café mocha: 175 milligrams of caffeine
- Flat white: 195 milligrams of caffeine
- Cold Brew: 200 milligrams of caffeine
- Caffe Americano: 225 milligrams of caffeine
- Latte Macchiato: 225 milligrams of caffeine
- Nitro Cold Brew: 280 milligrams of caffeine
Is Espresso Stronger Than Coffee?
Although a “total” 8-ounce cup will give the advantage to drop coffee, an 8-ounce cup of espresso would beat it by a landslide.
A 1-ounce espresso cup has about 40 milligrams of caffeine.
Therefore, an 8-ounce espresso would have 320 milligrams of caffeine, compared to 100 milligrams of caffeine in drip coffee.
How Do You Determine Your Coffee Strength? Establishing a Baseline
There is no universal answer to the difference between strong and weak coffee.
However, you can establish a baseline of strength, roast profile, and flavor.
Below is a 1-5 scale of roast and strength:
- 1: Light-medium roast
- 2: Medium roast
- 3: Medium-dark roast
- 4: Dark roast
- 5: Very dark roast
When we refer to coffee strength, the biggest influence you have is the amount of coffee you do, compared to the amount of water you use for the coffee.
The barista will need to make the executive call when confirming the ratio between water and coffee grinds throughout the brewing process.
Viewing coffee strength from a “flavor” perspective might make it a little more complex.
You can break down flavor on a 1-10 scale:
- 1: Dry and crisp
- 2: Dry and fruity
- 3: Dry and full-bodied
- 4: Smooth and mellow
- 5: Smooth and rich
- 6: Sweet, rich, and fruity
- 7: Nutty and rich
- 8: Winey and rich with chocolate notes
- 9: Full-bodied and rich
- 10: Strongest Italian coffee flavor
Each type of coffee will call for a different roasting depth.
That way, the barista can bring out the best coffee from the flavors.
You would also need to be selective about the type of coffee bean and its impact on the roast and flavor.
The skill level of the barista will be a large factor in the outcome here.
Why Drink High Caffeine Coffee?
According to Medical News Today, high-caffeine coffee may provide some key health benefits:
- Weight loss: Caffeine not only suppresses appetite and the desire to eat food but also facilitates thermogenesis so your body can produce more energy and heat from food digestion.
- Higher sports performance: Caffeine can foster endurance capacity, elevate performance, and reduce perceived exertion.
- More alertness: A standard cup of coffee can improve memory, motor skills, and speed reasoning.
- Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease: Research and studies indicate that lifelong consumption of caffeine can reduce the risk of these diseases.
- Brain function: Caffeine has a positive impact on your brain’s adenosine receptors.
The 5 Strongest Coffee Brands in the World
If you wish to purchase a specific brand of coffee, below are some of the strongest options.
Black Label Coffee
Black Label Coffee, developed by Devil Mountain, is a USDA-certified, organic, non-GMO, and fair trade coffee option.
According to the company website, you can achieve your energy levels without the jitters.
When the company developed its product, it explored South and Central America for some of the highest-quality beans.
How Much Caffeine Is in Black Label Coffee?
Black Label Coffee contains around 1,500 milligrams of caffeine per serving.
Where Can You Buy Black Label Coffee?
How Much Does Black Label Coffee Cost?
You can purchase Black Label Coffee for $19 on both Amazon and its company website.
However, shipping may differ between these two methods.
Very Strong Robusta Coffee Beans
Very Strong Robusta Coffee is a United Kingdom company that only uses Robusta beans to provide the strong caffeine kick you need each day.
How Much Caffeine Is in Very Strong Robusta Beans Coffee?
For a 12-ounce cup of coffee, the Very Strong Robusta Beans Coffee product provides 1,350 milligrams of caffeine.
The coffee delivers a potent, unique aroma that will put you in the mood immediately.
Because it uses Robusta beans, it will already provide the natural caffeine boost you need.
Where Can You Buy Very Strong Robusta Beans Coffee?
How Much Does Very Strong Robusta Beans Coffee Cost?
You can purchase Very Strong Robusta Beans Coffee for $16.50 on Amazon.
Black Insomnia Coffee
Black Insomnia coffee blends hazelnut, caramel, and macadamia aromas for a dark chocolate flavor.
The company prides itself on being flavorful, while independently verified as the world’s strongest cup of coffee.
Black Insomnia also separates itself through its precision roasting and time-tested drum roaster.
How Much Caffeine Is in Black Insomnia Coffee?
For a 12-ounce cup, Black Insomnia’s classic roast coffee provides 1,105 milligrams of caffeine.
The high caffeine content is a result of the company’s “artisanal roasting approach” and bean combination.
Where Can You Buy Black Insomnia Coffee?
How Much Does Black Insomnia Coffee Cost?
Black Insomnia’s classic roast sells for $19.99, while its ready-to-drink cold brew option sells for $39.99.
Biohazard Coffee is another specialty coffee option made with Robusta beans and a dark-roasted process.
The coffee has a mild, yet bitter flavor with tasty notes of chocolate, popcorn, nuts, and tobacco.
Three main elements make up the Biohazard Coffee brand and its taste:
- The beans are sourced from a single region.
- The Robusta beans go through a detail-oriented selection process.
- The beans are roasted to retain the maximum amount of caffeine.
How Much Caffeine Is in Biohazard Coffee?
Biohazard Coffee delivers 928 milligrams of caffeine for a 12-ounce cup.
Where Can You Buy Biohazard Coffee?
How Much Does Biohazard Coffee Cost?
A 1-pound bag of Biohazard Coffee will cost $19.99, including free shipping.
If you want to go big with the 5-pound bag, it will be $69.99, including free shipping.
Death Wish Coffee Co
Death Wish Coffee was created in 2012 by Mike Brown.
The company soon took media by storm through super bowl commercials, appearances on Good Morning America, and partnerships with NASA Food Labs.
Death Wish Coffee utilizes premium Robusta and Arabica beans in their coffee production to create chocolate and cherry flavors.
Their streamlined brewing process also helps deliver a tasty cup.
How Much Caffeine Is in Death Wish Coffee?
Death Wish Coffee provides 728 milligrams of caffeine for every 12-ounce cup.
Where Can You Buy Death Wish Coffee?
How Much Does Death Wish Coffee Cost?
Depending on location and website, shipping costs may vary.
How to Brew a Highly Caffeinated Cup of Coffee
So, how do you brew a cup of coffee that is high in caffeine?
It all starts with selecting the light beans, which contain more caffeine.
As you roast the bean, it will get darker and lose its energy-driven substance.
Next, grind your coffee into a finer substance.
You will extract much more caffeine from beans that are more ground.
Invest a couple more minutes into grinding the beans for the optimal energy boost.
Lastly, select your brewing method.
A French press will produce the least amount of caffeine.
A drip coffee filter will produce a little more caffeine.
However, a percolator will give you the highest caffeine results.
Is Highly Caffeinated Coffee Safe?
Although highly-caffeinated coffee has several benefits, there is some risk that you need to consider:
- Depression: A large daily caffeine intake can make symptoms worse with depression and anxiety.
- Blood sugar: Those with type 2 diabetes may experience higher blood glucose levels after drinking caffeine.
- Gout: Consuming five or more caffeinated drinks per day can cause the risk of consistent gout attacks.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
Many of the risks above could come into play when someone consumes more than 300-400 milligrams of caffeine per day.
This amount is equivalent to 3-4 cups of coffee per day.
On the other hand, teens should minimize their daily caffeine intake to less than 100 milligrams per day.
As you can see, many factors go into a strong cup of coffee.
Depending on your barista skills, you can make some alterations to determine the strength.
When it all comes down to it, you can control the brewing method, bean type, ground size, and the ratio between coffee grounds and water.
The best thing about drinking coffee is there are thousands of different ways to drink it.
Play around with different options and see which caffeine level hits the spot for you.